Plaza Cinema

275 Wellingborough Road,
Northampton, NN1 4EW

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GramRfone on April 27, 2018 at 8:39 am

One of the Westar projectors at the Plaza and my first attempts at hand-colouring an original mono chrome shot which I took when I commenced work there as a trainee in 1951. I can confirm that the footlights were made out of metal Walls ice cream containers in which the product was delivered. The bulbs were all hand painted in various colours but all controlled by a single dimmer. The Manager/Owner Sid Cipin was a great boss to work for, and when I handed in my notice,having obtained a position at the Savoy,he offered to up my wages…but they still didn’t match what I was to earn at the Savoy. His office was next to the projection room and actually had a small balcony attached where he and any guests could watch the film. I can confirm that the tabs were hand wound via wires and pulleys along the roof void,and that the Chief Projectionist [Charles Lawton] did live on the premises. His living quarters was also the Rectifier room,and he cooked all his meals on a small combined electric ring & oven in there. He used the toilets to wash and shave in,but each week would get in his Standard 8 Morris car and drive to Northampton Baths fora weekly bath! He also went round the Town in his car to all the bill posting sites with a bucket of paste and broom to stick up the next weeks attraction quad posters. He was an avid short-wave Radio Ham and spent many evening hours tuning in to Stations around the world. A very strange man to work with. Reluctant to actually teach me anything about projection, and had two strange habits. He was quite small in stature and had two 2" wooden platforms at the viewing ports which allowed him to view the film.The problem was that he had a habit of continually dribbling spit from his mouth onto the boards…which were soaking wet. His other habit was to shave his head with a comb-razor and it was forever raw looking. His one day off a week was Sunday and he would dress in a very smart suit,trousers,shirt & tie and drive to the Gaumont Cinema to have Sunday Lunch! The only other projectionist was a well built guy by the name of John who had a club foot and wore a surgical boot.

Alan Ashton.